Right to Lie
Response to Natalynne and others’ stumping, literally, for TerraGen
For the record, we are being conned by very sophisticated outfits here. Stantec, which is surveying wildlife, is an international energy company heavily into pipelines, shale and tar sands oil, fracking.
They were at Ferndale in force, in jeans and folksy garb, but this is a monumental sales job being conducted by some of the biggest fossil fuel developers in the world, even though Stantec poses as, and was described as, a “science company.”
Stantec’s strategy has been exposed elsewhere, where they have been caught under-sampling before, as they are repeating here, relying on outdated references, with claims, like so much in this DEIR, that are internally inconsistent. Does this sound like rigorous surveying: “Murrelet flight activity was measured approximately 1-3 times each month from April to September 2018.” They spend a lot of ink on how much better these are than ones done 10 years ago.
Stantec on the east coast has argued repeatedly that passage rates during pre-construction are not determinative of post-construction mortality. Instead, they’ve pushed for operational adjustments after construction should mortality be a problem. In other words, build first and deal with the problem later.
If you look at CDFW’s scoping comments (starts at pdf page 88 of DEIR Appendix A), they believe the site falls under Category 3 (sites with high or uncertain potential for wildlife impacts) or Category 4 (sites inappropriate for wind development).
Murrelets are so endangered all along the PNW coast that Oregon recently uplifted them to endangered. Even if you believe correctly that global heating will kill millions, that doesn’t mean we have to unnecessarily sacrifice habitat and species to address the emergency, when we have real solutions at hand.
The DEIR is essentially tobacco science. Their murrelet surveys are designed to minimize the impacts of placing 600-foot blenders in their flyway, with zero mitigations because there aren’t any. The best way to protect murrelets is rooftop solar, which facilitates electric vehicles, which reduce imported fuel needs coming into the Bay and the potential for an oil spill in their marine habitat. This project relies on garbage can covers, and logging to recruit habitat, a centuries-long prospect that releases GHGs and removes the carbon sequestering capacity of growing trees.
TerraGen/Stantec’s so-called science is really just a concentrated mass of deferred mitigations and confusing data, all dressed up in obfuscating scientisms, obvious to any diligent reader. Their claims of GHG emissions “saved” by this project are wildly exaggerated, a conclusion that is readily reached using their own numbers.
Ever wonder why Monument Ridge is called that? Because it was used as the principal surveyor’s “monument” back in 1853 when
Henry Washington established the Humboldt Meridian “Initial Point” from which all future surveys to theOregon border, Trinity and Mendocino Counties, and over to the coast could tee of from.
Mount Pierce (President Pierce…) was visible here the way the Initial Point Mt Diablo is to the south, from everywhere. These clever con artists would have you believe that installing 60-600 foot turbines and 6 400 ft meteorological towers will somehow be invisible. on this majestic ridge.
TerraGen has never been installed windmills in terrain like this, where a fire on these ridges could consume thousands of acres of precious wilderness in Rainbow Ridge to the west, and all along Bear River ridge. Windmill fires with 400 gallons oil in their nacelle would spread like wildfire.
If they don’t start up this year, the federal tax credit will be unavailable, and then they would have to avail themselves of the alternative, the “Investment Tax Credit.” But they still get the accelerated depreciation, a rapid write-off irrespective of the performance of the project. Hence the sales job on the rushed wildlife surveys that violate the standard of 2-3 years’ data collections.
They exploit our genuine concern for the climate emergency and urge us “to do our part,” when what they really mean is to do their part for them. Our renewables deadline of 2025 is held hostage, County planners love that TerraGen is doing so much of the work, papering over the extensive, unmitigable impacts with their highly compensated, and literally well-oiled PR machinery.
TerraGen is counting on our cultural history of bending over to colonizing extractors, including our gold, our water, our salmon, our forests, our watersheds, and now our wind.
We’d be far better off without this wind-doggle until we implement better strategies, like conservation and rooftop solar, since only 20% of the PGE plant’s fuel fuel emits GHGs, especially if we accelerate programs for affordable widespread distributed solar to meet our renewable agenda. For the first 3 years or so, this windmill project will be worse than the PGE plant, even worse if you include the massive fossil fuel energy that is required to fabricate, transport and install these monsters. TerraGen tries to hide these impacts by amortizing them over 25 years, for obvious reasons.
Solar panels come with lucrative tax benefits including a 30% federal credit (declining thanks to you know who), but increases property values roughly 20x one’s annual electricity savings. Instead of steadily rising prices for the wind energy, solar panels can pay for themselves in 4-5 years when married to an electric vehicle, and costs of panels are falling daily.
Unlike these windmills which require constant maintenance because their parts fail frequently and often dangerously, solar requires no maintenance, and once payback is achieved, you have a money-generating roof. Electric vehicles are maintenance free also, and can be used as vehicle to grid for storage and nighttime use.
Even TerraGen’s solar guy admitted that we could power 20,000 rooftops with 7.5 kW of panels for $300m, which, after credits, approximates their $200m cost, but without the impacts on our forested watersheds, native grasslands, and ridges sacred to local Native American tribes (see Adam Canter’s eloquent description of these ridges here, May 16 .) When I told Kevin, their Senior Ecologist, that these places are sacred, his retort was “They all say that.” Yes Kevin, we all value our sense of place and quality of life.
Solar with mini-grids is our ticket to resilience, and a steady flow of revenues exceeding the measly $2m annual taxes from TerraGen that could flow to the public treasury.
The 15 permanent TerraGen jobs will be imported specialists ready 24/7 to respond to the inevitable breakdowns and emergencies that these giant machines require. Solar jobs are home-grown, and multiply around the county, with no need for emergency response personnel.
Growing forests, not logging them stores carbon. The Van Eck forest sequestered 180,000 metric tons of C02 in 4 years on 220 acres by 2009 (LA times), and the Arcata forest sequesters 6-7 tons per acre, with wildlife enhancement, not the havoc of this project.
This is the worst site for a windmill complex imaginable, and the worst sort of corporados to invite into our county. This DEIR could easily become a programmatic one, and there are three other potential tie-ins to the grid that could be potentially exploited for windmills, as hungry landowners with ridges that don’t have pesky murrelets succumb to lucrative easement contracts. TerraGen has the resources to do just that, especially after gaining a foothold, no matter how they protest.
This is not about whether wind is a good energy source, this is about whether this site is appropriate with all the unacceptable impacts; but even more, this proposal should stimulate home-grown efforts to do what we want and need, not what Energy Capital Partners, TerraGen’s owner, wants.
When the Trinity River dam went in, our state senator bellowed “Not a single fish will die.” They too found the energy of our wild rivers irresistible, and they too lied. The only thing that has changed is that project proponents have learned to play the CEQA game.
Don’t let the wind be pulled over your eyes. The only thing that is green about this is in TerraGen’s, Energy Partners’, Stantec’s wallets.
Stand up to this mass deception and ultra-sophisticated con job, and advocate for conservation, passive solar, widespread public and private distributed energy production, mini-grids, solar water heating, and electric vehicles.
Transportation is our number one GHG emitter, and electric vehicles charged at home clean that up. Solarization can be done quickly, given the political will and smarts. We need not be held hostage to the artifice of our renewable agenda and allow the tail to wag the dog. Instead we should use it for what makes sense, for us.
We have stood up against LNG, Goldman Sachs’ plan to develop our port, even converting Richardson Grove State Park to an STAA truck route.
And we have pioneered off-the grid solar. In fact, solar got its start in SoHum when David Katz and Roger Herrick opened up Alternative Energy Engineering back in the 70s in Briceland. We have a long history of renewable power generation, individuals taking the initiative and creating a life in tune with their surroundings. At one time, AEE was the largest dealer in solar panels in the world! This is Humboldt. This is us.
Join us in Scotia, at the historic Cinema Theater Monday June 3, at 630, for a citizens’ meeting, not the vapid dog and pony folksy “Not One Critter Will Die Uncompensated” sales job that TerraGen has been pedaling. Come hear the real story. And read the DEIR, carefully, for the fake one.
Thanks to re:pete for passing this on to the Examiner